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- How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates
How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates
Published on October 12, 2022 by Shona McCombes and Tegan George. Revised on January 3, 2023.
A research proposal describes what you will investigate, why it’s important, and how you will conduct your research.
The format of a research proposal varies between fields, but most proposals will contain at least these elements:
- Research design
While the sections may vary, the overall objective is always the same. A research proposal serves as a blueprint and guide for your research plan, helping you get organized and feel confident in the path forward you choose to take.
Table of contents
Research proposal purpose, research proposal examples, research design and methods, contribution to knowledge, research schedule, frequently asked questions about research proposals.
Academics often have to write research proposals to get funding for their projects. As a student, you might have to write a research proposal as part of a grad school application , or prior to starting your thesis or dissertation .
In addition to helping you figure out what your research can look like, a proposal can also serve to demonstrate why your project is worth pursuing to a funder, educational institution, or supervisor.
Research proposal length
The length of a research proposal can vary quite a bit. A bachelor’s or master’s thesis proposal can be just a few pages, while proposals for PhD dissertations or research funding are usually much longer and more detailed. Your supervisor can help you determine the best length for your work.
One trick to get started is to think of your proposal’s structure as a shorter version of your thesis or dissertation , only without the results , conclusion and discussion sections.
Download our research proposal template
Writing a research proposal can be quite challenging, but a good starting point could be to look at some examples. We’ve included a few for you below.
- Example research proposal #1: “A Conceptual Framework for Scheduling Constraint Management”
- Example research proposal #2: “Making Healthy Connections: Mentoring, Monitoring and Measurement”
- Example research proposal #3: “Medical Students as Mediators of Change in Tobacco Use”
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Like your dissertation or thesis, the proposal will usually have a title page that includes:
- The proposed title of your project
- Your supervisor’s name
- Your institution and department
The first part of your proposal is the initial pitch for your project. Make sure it succinctly explains what you want to do and why.
Your introduction should:
- Introduce your topic
- Give necessary background and context
- Outline your problem statement and research questions
To guide your introduction , include information about:
- Who could have an interest in the topic (e.g., scientists, policymakers)
- How much is already known about the topic
- What is missing from this current knowledge
- What new insights your research will contribute
- Why you believe this research is worth doing
As you get started, it’s important to demonstrate that you’re familiar with the most important research on your topic. A strong literature review shows your reader that your project has a solid foundation in existing knowledge or theory. It also shows that you’re not simply repeating what other people have already done or said, but rather using existing research as a jumping-off point for your own.
In this section, share exactly how your project will contribute to ongoing conversations in the field by:
- Comparing and contrasting the main theories, methods, and debates
- Examining the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches
- Explaining how will you build on, challenge, or synthesize prior scholarship
Following the literature review, restate your main objectives . This brings the focus back to your own project. Next, your research design or methodology section will describe your overall approach, and the practical steps you will take to answer your research questions.
To finish your proposal on a strong note, explore the potential implications of your research for your field. Emphasize again what you aim to contribute and why it matters.
For example, your results might have implications for:
- Improving best practices
- Informing policymaking decisions
- Strengthening a theory or model
- Challenging popular or scientific beliefs
- Creating a basis for future research
Last but not least, your research proposal must include correct citations for every source you have used, compiled in a reference list . To create citations quickly and easily, you can use our free APA citation generator .
Some institutions or funders require a detailed timeline of the project, asking you to forecast what you will do at each stage and how long it may take. While not always required, be sure to check the requirements of your project.
Here’s an example schedule to help you get started. You can also download a template at the button below.
Download our research schedule template
If you are applying for research funding, chances are you will have to include a detailed budget. This shows your estimates of how much each part of your project will cost.
Make sure to check what type of costs the funding body will agree to cover. For each item, include:
- Cost : exactly how much money do you need?
- Justification : why is this cost necessary to complete the research?
- Source : how did you calculate the amount?
To determine your budget, think about:
- Travel costs : do you need to go somewhere to collect your data? How will you get there, and how much time will you need? What will you do there (e.g., interviews, archival research)?
- Materials : do you need access to any tools or technologies?
- Help : do you need to hire any research assistants for the project? What will they do, and how much will you pay them?
Once you’ve decided on your research objectives , you need to explain them in your paper, at the end of your problem statement .
Keep your research objectives clear and concise, and use appropriate verbs to accurately convey the work that you will carry out for each one.
I will compare …
A research aim is a broad statement indicating the general purpose of your research project. It should appear in your introduction at the end of your problem statement , before your research objectives.
Research objectives are more specific than your research aim. They indicate the specific ways you’ll address the overarching aim.
A PhD, which is short for philosophiae doctor (doctor of philosophy in Latin), is the highest university degree that can be obtained. In a PhD, students spend 3–5 years writing a dissertation , which aims to make a significant, original contribution to current knowledge.
A PhD is intended to prepare students for a career as a researcher, whether that be in academia, the public sector, or the private sector.
A master’s is a 1- or 2-year graduate degree that can prepare you for a variety of careers.
All master’s involve graduate-level coursework. Some are research-intensive and intend to prepare students for further study in a PhD; these usually require their students to write a master’s thesis . Others focus on professional training for a specific career.
Critical thinking refers to the ability to evaluate information and to be aware of biases or assumptions, including your own.
Like information literacy , it involves evaluating arguments, identifying and solving problems in an objective and systematic way, and clearly communicating your ideas.
The best way to remember the difference between a research plan and a research proposal is that they have fundamentally different audiences. A research plan helps you, the researcher, organize your thoughts. On the other hand, a dissertation proposal or research proposal aims to convince others (e.g., a supervisor, a funding body, or a dissertation committee) that your research topic is relevant and worthy of being conducted.
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How to Write a Research Proposal
Once you’re in college and really getting into academic writing , you may not recognize all the kinds of assignments you’re asked to complete. You know what an essay is, and you know how to respond to readings—but when you hear your professor mention a research proposal or a literature review, your mind might do a double take.
Don’t worry; we’ve got you. Boiled down to its core, a research proposal is simply a short piece of writing that details exactly what you’ll be covering in a larger research project. You’ll likely be required to write one for your thesis , and if you choose to continue in academia after earning your bachelor’s degree, you’ll be writing research proposals for your master’s thesis, your dissertation, and all other research you conduct. By then, you’ll be a research proposal pro. But for now, we’ll answer all your questions and help you confidently write your first one.
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What is the goal of a research proposal?
In a research proposal, the goal is to present the author’s plan for the research they intend to conduct. In some cases, part of this goal is to secure funding for said research. In others, it’s to have the research approved by the author’s supervisor or department so they can move forward with it. In some cases, a research proposal is a required part of a graduate school application. In every one of these circumstances, research proposals follow the same structure.
In a research proposal, the author demonstrates how and why their research is relevant to their field. They demonstrate that the work is necessary to the following:
- Filling a gap in the existing body of research on their subject
- Underscoring existing research on their subject, and/or
- Adding new, original knowledge to the academic community’s existing understanding of their subject
A research proposal also demonstrates that the author is capable of conducting this research and contributing to the current state of their field in a meaningful way. To do this, your research proposal needs to discuss your academic background and credentials as well as demonstrate that your proposed ideas have academic merit.
But demonstrating your research’s validity and your personal capability to carry it out isn’t enough to get your research proposal approved. Your research proposal also has to cover these things:
- The research methodology you plan to use
- The tools and procedures you will use to collect, analyze, and interpret the data you collect
- An explanation of how your research fits the budget and other constraints that come with conducting it through your institution, department, or academic program
If you’ve already read our post on literature reviews , you may be thinking that a research proposal sounds pretty similar. They’re more than just similar, though—a literature review is part of a research proposal. It’s the section that covers which sources you’re using, how you’re using them, and why they’re relevant. Think of a literature review as a mini-research proposal that fits into your larger, main proposal.
How long should a research proposal be?
Generally, research proposals for bachelor’s and master’s theses are a few pages long. Research proposals for meatier projects, like Ph.D. dissertations and funding requests, are often longer and far more detailed. A research proposal’s goal is to clearly outline exactly what your research will entail and accomplish, so including the proposal’s word count or page count isn’t nearly as important as it is to ensure that all the necessary elements and content are present.
Research proposal structure
A research proposal follows a fairly straightforward structure. In order to achieve the goals described in the previous section, nearly all research proposals include the following sections:
Your introduction achieves a few goals:
- Introduces your topic
- States your problem statement and the questions your research aims to answer
- Provides context for your research
In a research proposal, an introduction can be a few paragraphs long. It should be concise, but don’t feel like you need to cram all of your information into one paragraph.
In some cases, you need to include an abstract and/or a table of contents in your research proposal. These are included just before the introduction.
This is where you explain why your research is necessary and how it relates to established research in your field. Your work might complement existing research, strengthen it, or even challenge it—no matter how your work will “play with” other researchers’ work, you need to express it in detail in your research proposal.
This is also the section where you clearly define the existing problems your research will address. By doing this, you’re explaining why your work is necessary—in other words, this is where you answer the reader’s “so what?”
In your background significance section, you’ll also outline how you’ll conduct your research. If necessary, note which related questions and issues you won’t be covering in your research.
In your literature review , you introduce all the sources you plan to use in your research. This includes landmark studies and their data, books, and scholarly articles. A literature review isn’t merely a list of sources (that’s what your bibliography is for); a literature review delves into the collection of sources you chose and explains how you’re using them in your research.
Research design, methods, and schedule
Following your research review, you’ll discuss your research plans. In this section, make sure you cover these aspects:
- The type of research you will do. Are you conducting qualitative or quantitative research? Are you collecting original data or working with data collected by other researchers?
- Whether you’re doing experimental, correlational, or descriptive research
- The data you’re working with. For example, if you’re conducting research in the social sciences, you’ll need to describe the population you’re studying. You’ll also need to cover how you’ll select your subjects and how you’ll collect data from them.
- The tools you’ll use to collect data. Will you be running experiments? Conducting surveys? Observing phenomena? Note all data collection methods here along with why they’re effective methods for your specific research.
Beyond a comprehensive look at your research itself, you’ll also need to include:
- Your research timeline
- Your research budget
- Any potential obstacles you foresee and your plan for handling them
Suppositions and implications
Although you can’t know your research’s results until you’ve actually done the work, you should be going into the project with a clear idea of how your work will contribute to your field. This section is perhaps the most critical to your research proposal’s argument because it expresses exactly why your research is necessary.
In this section, make sure you cover the following:
- Any ways your work can challenge existing theories and assumptions in your field
- How your work will create the foundation for future research
- The practical value your findings will provide to practitioners, educators, and other academics in your field
- The problems your work can potentially help to fix
- Policies that could be impacted by your findings
- How your findings can be implemented in academia or other settings and how this will improve or otherwise transform these settings
In other words, this section isn’t about stating the specific results you expect. Rather, it’s where you state how your findings will be valuable.
This is where you wrap it all up. Your conclusion section, just like your conclusion paragraph for an essay , briefly summarizes your research proposal and reinforces your research’s stated purpose.
Yes, you need to write a bibliography in addition to your literature review. Unlike your literature review, where you explained the relevance of the sources you chose and in some cases, challenged them, your bibliography simply lists your sources and their authors.
The way you write a citation depends on the style guide you’re using. The three most common style guides for academics are MLA , APA , and Chicago , and each has its own particular rules and requirements. Keep in mind that each formatting style has specific guidelines for citing just about any kind of source, including photos , websites , speeches , and YouTube videos .
Sometimes, a full bibliography is not needed. When this is the case, you can include a references list, which is simply a scaled-down list of all the sources you cited in your work. If you’re not sure which to write, ask your supervisor.
Here’s a tip: Grammarly’s Citation Generator ensures your essays have flawless citations and no plagiarism. Try it for citing journal articles in MLA , APA , and Chicago styles.
How to write a research proposal
Research proposals, like all other kinds of academic writing, are written in a formal, objective tone. Keep in mind that being concise is a key component of academic writing; formal does not mean flowery.
Adhere to the structure outlined above. Your reader knows how a research proposal is supposed to read and expects it to fit this template. It’s crucial that you present your research proposal in a clear, logical way. Every question the reader has while reading your proposal should be answered by the final section.
Editing and proofreading a research proposal
When you’re writing a research proposal, follow the same six-step writing process you follow with every other kind of writing you do.
After you’ve got a first draft written, take some time to let it “cool off” before you start proofreading . By doing this, you’re making it easier for yourself to catch mistakes and gaps in your writing.
Common mistakes to avoid when writing a research proposal
When you’re writing a research proposal, avoid these common pitfalls:
Being too wordy
As we said earlier, formal does not mean flowery. In fact, you should aim to keep your writing as brief and to-the-point as possible. The more economically you can express your purpose and goal, the better.
Failing to cite relevant sources
When you’re conducting research, you’re adding to the existing body of knowledge on the subject you’re covering. Your research proposal should reference one or more of the landmark research pieces in your field and connect your work to these works in some way. This doesn’t just communicate your work’s relevance—it also demonstrates your familiarity with the field.
Focusing too much on minor issues
There are probably a lot of great reasons why your research is necessary. These reasons don’t all need to be in your research proposal. In fact, including too many questions and issues in your research proposal can detract from your central purpose, weakening the proposal. Save the minor issues for your research paper itself and cover only the major, key issues you aim to tackle in your proposal.
Failing to make a strong argument for your research
This is perhaps the easiest way to undermine your proposal because it’s far more subjective than the others. A research proposal is, in essence, a piece of persuasive writing . That means that although you’re presenting your proposal in an objective, academic way, the goal is to get the reader to say “yes” to your work.
This is true in every case, whether your reader is your supervisor, your department head, a graduate school admissions board, a private or government-backed funding provider, or the editor at a journal in which you’d like to publish your work.
Polish your writing into a stellar proposal
When you’re asking for approval to conduct research—especially when there’s funding involved—you need to be nothing less than 100 percent confident in your proposal. If your research proposal has spelling or grammatical mistakes, an inconsistent or inappropriate tone, or even just awkward phrasing, those will undermine your credibility.
Make sure your research proposal shines by using Grammarly to catch all of those issues. Even if you think you caught all of them while you were editing, it’s critical to double-check your work. Your research deserves the best proposal possible, and Grammarly can help you make that happen.
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Creating a captivating research paper title page – ultimate guide with examples.
August 29, 2019
A reader can become engaged or irritated after seeing your research paper title page. Th at is why you need to put in the effort to make sure that it is done properly, and it compels the reader to continue reading the content. Creating the title page for research paper is sometimes more difficult for students than writing a research paper.
How To Make A Title Page For Research Paper
The first thing you need to know is that there are primarily three formats for your title page – APA, Chicago style, and MLA. Your instructor will most likely tell you which format is ideal for the paper. The title page has to contain some precise information about the research in a few words. So, what should be contained in a research paper title page?
The front page of your research paper should contain your full name as it is stated on all your educational certificates. That should be on the same page where you put the topic.
Title Of The Research Paper
Make sure you come up with a good title for research paper and put it on the cover page along with your name. Make sure that the title is interesting. Also, it should not be misleading in any way but should provide a glimpse into the entire content. Typically, the title of the research paper title is expected to be written in capital letters and bold fonts.
Another important detail to add is the full name of the research supervisor. If you go through the research paper title page examples, you’ll see that adding the supervisor’s name is a must.
You need to provide some information about the course, including the course code, academic year, and semester.
Now you know what your research paper title page is expected to contain, it’s time to dive into how to make a title page like a professional. Below are some useful tips for creating the perfect paper title page:
Use The Right Format
As stated earlier, there are three main research paper formats. The one you use will depend on what you’ve been instructed to use. However, you need to make sure you stick to one format from the title to the conclusion.
If you’ve been instructed to use the Chicago format, you have to make sure all the content on the cover page is aligned to the center. Your paper title should be halfway into the page. After the page title, write your full name followed by the name of your instructor and then the course title. There is no need to number the cover page when you’re using the Chicago style.
When you’re instructed to use the APA style, you have to number the title page at the top right corner. Use Times New Roman as your page font and keep one-inch margins on every side of the cover page. You may not need to write everything in capital letters.
For the MLA format, you need to start a third way into the paper, but it should not be as low as the Chicago style. You can add a subtitle to your original title. Just after that, add your name, the name of your school, the course title, your instructor’s name.
Writing A Research Paper – Quick Overview
After you’ve determined what you want your title page to look like, you need to find out how to start a research paper. It is important to note that each institution may have specific guidelines on how to write a research paper. So, make sure you read these guidelines thoroughly before you start. However, some general rules are as follows:
Don’t Joke With The Research
The research part of the research paper writing is crucial. Before you start writing anything, research the topic thoroughly, and get updated information about every fact you’re going to list. As soon as you understand the topic, you need to gather resources, formulate the idea, develop your thesis statement. Your research should be backed by empirical data. If possible, conduct first-hand research on the subject. Otherwise, look for reliable research on Google Scholar, government publications, encyclopedias, newspapers, and almanacs.
About Your Thesis Statement
Your thesis statement tells your reader what the main point of your essay is and what your supporting points are. It can be one or two sentences that prepare the minds of the readers for what is to come. Make sure that everything in the body of your paper is in line with the thesis statement, not opposite. Your thesis statement should appear at the end of your introduction and or should match the topic.
Work With An Outline
Your work would flow better if you use an outline from the beginning to the end. Your outline should be made up of all the points you intend to cover in the content. It can also include the research paper format. Make sure that you put down all the subheadings you intend to cover in the content as well as the details of the materials you want to use in each subheading.
Write A Draft First
To increase your chances of creating high-quality work, try writing a draft first. When you’ve completed the draft, you can start writing the content you will submit. Writing a draft first allows you to brainstorm ideas and find the perfect voice for the content.
Progress From Weakest To Strongest Point
For your content to have a logical flow, start with the weakest point, and slowly progress to the strongest. That doesn’t mean you need to start with a point that isn’t backed empirically. It just means the point you start with should not be your strongest. Each point should have a supporting argument as a backup. It makes your content better.
Restate Your Thesis Statement In Your Conclusion
When it’s time to conclude your paper after listing all the relevant points, you can restate your thesis statement as is common in research paper writing examples. That doesn’t mean you should copy and paste your thesis. Just find new words to say it and link all your points to it. Draw the reader’s attention to why all the points you’ve made support your thesis. That applies when you’re research is conclusive. If it is not, make sure you state that in the research is inconclusive.
Review Before Submission
So, you’ve completed your research paper successfully. That’s cool. However, you should not rush into submitting. Revise the work, make edits, and ask someone else to help you read it. Make sure that your work is as flawless as possible. There should be no inaccurate information, grammatical, or typographical errors. The last thing you want to do is submit a compelling research paper with bad grammar or typographical errors.
Let Our Writers Create Best Title Page For You
Writing a research paper, especially its title page, is like writing any other paper. However, it requires more precision and use of facts. Depending on the topic, make sure that everything you state is factual. These tips above will help when you’re creating a title page for your research paper and when you’re creating the paper. Also, should you feel stuck with crafting a research paper – feel free to hire our experts to help you get exciting results!
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APA title page (cover page) format, examples, and templates
Note : APA 7 provides slightly different directions for formatting the title pages of professional papers (e.g., those intended for scholarly publication) and student papers (e.g., those turned in for credit in a high school or college course).
Professional paper APA title page
Student paper APA title page
Formatting an apa title page.
Note : All text on the title page should be double-spaced and typed in either 12-point, Times New Roman font. In the 7th edition, APA increaded the flexibility regarding font options: which now include Calibri 11, Arial 11, Lucida Sans Unicode 10, Times New Roman 12, or Georgia 11. All words should be centered, and capitalize the first letter of important words.
If a paper has two or more authors, place the word “and,” without quotes, between the names. If there are three or more authors, separate the authors' names with commas and use "and" before the last author's name.
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How to reference this article:.
McLeod, S. A. (2020, April 06). APA title page (cover page) format, examples, and templates . Simply psychology: https://www.simplypsychology.org/apa-title-page.html
MS Word Cover Page Templates
Download, personalize & print, proposal cover pages.
Posted By: admin 23/04/2019
A cover page also referred to as the title page, is the first page of a document that introduces the document to the reader. It has the basic information regarding the content of the document and may become a source of interest created for the reader.
A proposal is a document that is prepared to be presented to a client in order to convince the client about signing the deal. The cover page of a proposal holds great significance; where the proposal serves as a marketing tool for the company, the cover page, if attractive enough, can make a client interested in knowing about the proposal details and the information contained in the proposal report.
When the proposal is being prepared, enough attention should be given to its cover page as well as it is, usually, the first thing that is glanced at by the client and may or may not convince the client about the worth of the proposal. Some of the considerations are:
- The proposal cover page should be formal, professional and should match the image of the company.
- If any colors, pictures or different fonts are being used, they should be attractive and catchy but should not be a mismatch to the company’s image and the proposal’s purpose.
- The proposal cover page should have the required information while avoiding information overload.
- A proposal cover page needs to include the information that is required by the company as well as the client.
- The added information on the cover page needs to be synchronized with the type, purpose, and scope of the proposal.
Although the information that is included on a proposal cover page is dependent on many factors, such as company requirements, client needs, purpose and type of the proposal, etc., the information that is generally included on all the proposal cover pages are:
- Company name
- Company logo and slogan/tag line
- Any other picture, if wanted
- Company address
- Company’s contact details and/or website
- Proposal title
- Few points about experience, skills or competitive edge of the company
- Client name and details
- Submission date
- A concise summary of the report
There are many templates available on this website as well as in the programs, such as Microsoft Word, for designing the proposal cover pages. These templates can easily be customized and modified as per the requirements. At the same time, some companies prefer designing their own proposal cover pages, rather than opting for a template design. Where using the templates can save time and effort, designing from scratch may create a cover page that is distinct and one of its sort.
Irrespective of the option opted for by the company preparing the proposal, the template or design from scratch, if the proposal cover page serves its purpose which is about generating the interest of the client toward the proposal details and the complete report, it means that the cover page has been designed appropriately.
See the list below of many proposal templates designed by our team.
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Example research proposal #1: “A Conceptual Framework for Scheduling Constraint Management”. Example research proposal #2: “Making Healthy Connections: Mentoring, Monitoring and Measurement”. Example research proposal #3: “Medical Students as Mediators of Change in Tobacco Use”.
Your research proposal also has to cover these things: The research methodology you plan to use The tools and procedures you will use to collect, analyze, and interpret the data you collect An explanation of how your research fits the budget and other constraints that come with conducting it through your institution, department, or academic program
The first thing you need to know is that there are primarily three formats for your title page – APA, Chicago style, and MLA. Your instructor will most likely tell you which format is ideal for the paper. The title page has to contain some precise information about the research in a few words.
Research Proposal Format Example Following is a general outline of the material that should be included in your project proposal. I. Title Page II. Introduction and Literature Review (Chapters 2 and 3) A. Identification of specific problem area (e.g., what is it, why it is important). B. Prevalence, scope of problem. C.
In APA Style (7th edition), the cover page, or title page, should include: A running head (professional papers only) and page number The title of the paper The name of the author (s) The institutional affiliation An author note; optional (professional papers only) A student paper should also include course information
SAMPLE PROPOSAL COVER PAGE PROPOSAL to the Research Society of America 1515 Boulevard of the Planet Washington, DC 22222 Submitted by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill AOB 104 Airport Drive, Suite 2200, CB 1350 Chapel Hill, NC 27599-1350 Title: The affect of the internet on social behavior in the industrialized world.
Research proposal – an example The following is a suggested format for a research proposal. Cover Page. The cover page should show: the title; the student’s name and student number; the name of the University; the name of the degree sought; the name of the principal supervisor; and the date of submission. Abstract
The proposal cover page should be formal, professional and should match the image of the company. If any colors, pictures or different fonts are being used, they should be attractive and catchy but should not be a mismatch to the company’s image and the proposal’s purpose.
Here's an example of a proposal cover letter for a small farm requesting funding from a philanthropic organization: Cheryl Smith Farm Founder Grow It Farms 123 Central Ave. Farmington, VA 12345 growitfarms.com, [email protected], 139-233-2453 January 1, 2021 Mr. Josh Jackson The Farm Foundation 456 Strawberry St. Tampa, Florida 78900